At some point after Sunday’s 16-15 win over the Bears in Chicago, Tim Jernigan celebrated by wearing that black ski mask, he loaned his dorky 50-year-old coach his iced-out Jesus piece and then cheesed hard, gold teeth shining, for a photo.
Make no mistake about it. Jernigan is a very good football player. And his presence on the football field will certainly help the Eagles win games. But Jernigan brings more than that.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz tried to describe it earlier this week:
He means something to our spirit. He's a guy that has a little bit of a contagious energy. You just see him out on the field. He brings a confidence. He brings a toughness. He has made some big plays for us.
Jernigan, 26, is healthy now. He was able to play 22 snaps Sunday and said this week that he feels good to know. That’s enough reason to keep him smiling after an offseason when he was unsure of his football future and a season that certainly hasn’t gone to plan.
So this is just Jernigan back being himself. And his teammates absolutely love his personality. Ask anyone about Jernigan and they’ll tell you that Jernigan just brings some juice to the team.
I asked Jernigan if it’s a conscious decision to bring energy. His answer was classic Timmy:
Nah, man. That’s just who I am. I don’t try to be a mascot or nothing like that. I’m a 3-technique, dawg. I ain’t gotta do all that. That’s just who I am. I love football, I love the game.
I’ve been through some things that I definitely cherish every second that I can on the football field now. Not saying that I didn’t, but I’m a lot more conscious about every time I get on the football field, I need to take advantage of it and stay thankful.
One of those things Jernigan went through was what I alluded to just a bit ago. This offseason, he had surgery on his back for an unspecified injury. He still won’t get into the cause of the injury but has said he was worried he’d never play football again.
So just getting back on the field means a ton to him. He was already a fun, energetic guy before all that. After it? He’s just having fun again with his teammates.
“Some people have personalities that people gravitate toward,” Chris Long said. “He’s one of my favorite guys to play with on the team. He helps on the field and obviously, his attitude helps as well.”
The Eagles got Jernigan from Baltimore in a swap of 25 places in the third round. The Eagles used the 99th pick they got back for Rasul Douglas, who has been a big part of the last two seasons. The Ravens drafted DE Chris Wormley with the pick they got. He has started eight games in two years and got his first and only sack this season.
It didn’t take long for Jernigan to win over his new teammates. He has an infectious personality. On Jernigan’s first day back at practice this season, Pederson made sure to greet him with a giant hug during warmups. Everyone was happy to see him back on the field and he’s meant something to the team since he’s been back.
I asked Michael Bennett for an example of how Jernigan brings energy and he said he didn’t really have one.
“Like, he brings energy,” Bennett said. “You can’t see energy. You can just feel it.”
The Eagles are feeling it during this playoff run. And Jernigan will be smiling the whole way.
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